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Seychelles Fails To Get 10% Of Tuna Value On EU Fishing Deal

European Union boats have resumed fishing in the Seychelles’ tuna-rich waters after officials negotiated a new licensing deal with the islands’ government.

Fishery is a key source of foreign exchange for the Seychelles’ heavily indebted economy. Deadlock three weeks ago over license renewal terms led to EU vessels being suspended from fishing in the archipelago’s waters.

“The European Commission will pay 9 million euros in license fees for the operations of 40 vessels in our waters over the next year,” Veronique Herminie, principal secretary for the Ministry of Natural Resources, told Reuters on Monday.

She said that, besides this sum -the same as last year’s fee- the Commission would pay 1.7 million euros in compensation for excess catches during 2006 and 2007.

Last month, a source at the Seychelles Fishing Authority said the country wanted to earn more than 10 percent of the resource’s value through the license fee, rather than the current 3-to-5 percent.

France and Spain both base purse-seine net fleets in the Indian Ocean archipelago’s capital, Victoria, which handles about 350,000 tons of tuna a year. They resumed fishing on Sunday.

Tuna fleets have suffered two rough years as stocks in the northwestern Indian ocean have declined and Somali pirates have blocked access to some of the most lucrative fishing grounds.

“I am happy with the results of the talks,” said Pierre Amilhat, the Commission’s director-general for international affairs and marketing. He did not confirm the government’s figures.

Tuna is the Seychelles’ second-largest sector after tourism, employing one in five of its workforce. Victoria is home to Indian Ocean Tuna, one of the world’s largest tuna-canning factories, producing 240 million cans a year.

Tourism revenues are expected to fall by 10 percent this year and the central bank predicts the economy will contract by at least 0.5 percent.